More on the Paul Carter Commitment

Paul Carter, a 6-foot-8, 190-pound forward from Missouri State University-West Plains CC, became the first Gopher commitment for 2008-09 Monday night, as first reported by GoldenSports.net. Carter had been a top priority for the Gophers and is one of the top JC players in the country. GoldenSports.Net received some quotes from Carter and his head coach Brian Osterman about his Gopher choice.

Paul Carter attracted plenty of recruiting interest after a strong performance in the recent Jerry Mullen Camp in Tulsa. Carter picked Minnesota over interest from Charlotte, Wyoming, and Baylor.

Missouri State University-West Plains CC head coach Brian Osterman said that Carter had wanted to take an unofficial visit before classes start at Missouri State University-West Plains CC August 20. However, a new NCAA rule requires a JC transfer to have completed at least half of his credits before he can make a visit.

"Paul played very well at Jerry Mullen's JUCO exposure event in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in early July and gained a tremendous amount of attention," Ostermann said. "He and his family decided that an early decision would be in his best interest. Paul can now focus on his academics and our team."

Carter is excited about the opportunity to play for Coach Tubby Smith.

"When I was younger, my brothers and I always used to watch college basketball," Carter said. "Kentucky was one of my favorite teams growing up. As a young Kentucky fan, I always thought it would be amazing and a true blessing to play for Coach Smith."

Carter averaged 15.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.8 blocks per game during his senior year at Wilbur D. Mills University Studies High School in Little Rock, Ark. He shot 52 percent from the field, 36 percent from three-point range, and 78 percent from the free throw line while leading his team to a 29-4 record that season.

"Paul is a very good player and an even better person," Ostermann said. "Our fans are really going to enjoy watching him and our entire team play this year."

Ostermann said that the Gopher coaching staff won Carter over.

"Paul had some very good options, but to play for Tubby Smith is truly an honor," Ostermann said. "Coach Smith has won a national championship and is one of the best coaches in the country. He is arguably the most respected coach in the nation. He is president of the National Basketball Coaches Association and he was just involved in selecting our Olympic basketball team. Paul and his family have been completely sold on Coach Smith."

When talking about making his verbal commitment to the Minnesota Gophers, Paul said several Division I schools showed interest after his participation in the top-120 camp in Oklahoma. He said Minnesota was one of the schools showing early interest.

"Talking to Coach Smith was a great experience," he explained. "I saw that he was not just a great coach, but a good man. Minnesota is rebuilding a program, and I would love to be a part of that. God has blessed me with a wonderful opportunity and I can't praise him enough for allowing me a free education at a great university."

With his verbal commitment, Carter is expected to sign a national letter of intent during the official signing period in November, Ostermann said.

"Our entire Grizzly family is happy for Paul," he added. "We all can now focus on the most important thing and that's our team."

The Missouri State-West Plains Grizzly basketball season will begin Nov. 2-3 with the annual Ozarks Medical Center Tip-Off Tournament at the West Plains Civic Center.

Osterman sees Carter as a "3/4" or "4/3"

"He has good skills and is a mismatch guy," Osterman said. "He can post up smaller players and against bigger guys he can use his speed and quickness to go around them, which makes him a tough matchup."

Carter started classes Monday and is taking 18 credits (six classes) this semester. He plan to take 18 credits in the spring and three in the summer. If he graduates on time, he will have three years of eligibility at Minnesota, which makes him even more valuable as a JC transfer.

Carter is originally from California and moved to New Orleans as a junior. However, due to Hurricane Katrina, he finished his high school career at Little Rock (AR) Mills, where he graduated.

His mother still lives in Arkansas and his father, Ron Carter lives in Chicago. Carter finished his career as VMI's second all-time leading scorer and tenth in Virginia college history. Ironically, his 2,228 points is three more than Ralph Sampson scored at Virginia. Minnesota is recruiting Sampson's son, Ralph Sampson III, who is visiting Minnesota September 7th.

Ron Carter was the 26th overall pick (second round) in the 1978 draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. He played two seasons with the Lakers and averaged 3.1 points per game as a rookie in 1978=79 in 46 games and 2.5 points per game in 13 contests in 1979-80.

Paul Carter started last season at Connors State (OK) CC before transferring to Missouri State (MO) University-West Plains for the second semester, where he was just a part-time student. He was not released from Connors State and will not be on scholarship until this fall. Carter redshirted last year and will be a freshman this season. He has completed 26 credits, according to Osterman, who is originally from Good Thunder, Minn. He needs 65 credits to graduate, and if he can finish up during summer school, he would have three years of college eligibility remaining.

Osterman previously told GoldenSports.net that Carter can get the work done to be eligible.

"He is a good student who works hard. He is not the typical juco guy, who does not go to class. We'll see how he does. I think that he has a chance," Osterman said.

Osterman said that Tubby Smith liked his star player.

"Tubby loves him. He likens him to Tayshaun Prince, because he is a lefty," Osterman said.

Osterman has Minnesota ties, which likely helped Minnesota's chance of landing the talented player who one JC coach told me was the top player in Tulsa.

Osterman thinks that Carter is a very talented player.

"He is very skilled. He understands the game and has great leadership qualities. He is a pretty good ballhandler and outside shooter," Osterman said. "He needs to get stronger and needs to rebound better."

Gopher fans will get a chance to watch Carter, who will play in Minnesota twice this season, according to Osterman.

"We play Minnesota West in Worthington on Wednesday and Minneapolis Community the Saturday after Thanksgiving."

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